11 February 2016

USA: U.S., Five Partner Nations to Participate in Cope North 2016

Last Years (2015) - Exercise Cope North 15
By Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The U.S. and five ally and partner nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region are scheduled to participate in exercise Cope North 2016 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 10 through 26.

Exercise CN16 is a long-standing exercise designed to enhance multilateral air operations between the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. As part of CN16, additional participants from the Philippines Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force will participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.

News Report: US Intel Chief Concerned About Beijing's South China Sea Militarization

Director of National Intelligence: James R. Clapper
(Image: Wiki Commons)
Yang Chen, Libo Liu

U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has told a Senate committee that he expects China to continue building on artificial islands to sustain its "exorbitant" territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.

Addressing the Senate Intelligence Committee's worldwide threats hearing Tuesday, the top U.S. intelligence official implied that China is militarizing those land features, despite an assurance by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Washington last year that China did not intend to do so.

“Apparently President Xi may have a different definition than we do ... [putting] in runways, hangars and ... installing radars, doing port calls with Chinese navy, and Chinese coast guard ships," Clapper said. “I think it’s very clear they will try to exert as much as possessiveness, if you will, over this area and South China Sea in general.”

Editorial: Pakistan's Balochs Fear Minority Status in Their Own Province

By Umair Jamal

Pakistan’s federal government needs to address the Baloch people’s legitimate concerns.

Baloch alienation continues to increase in Pakistan as the upcoming national census, expected to take place in the next few months, might relegate them to minority status in Baluchistan. Many Baloch nationalist parties have accused the federal government of systematically converting the Baloch population into a minority in the province.

On many occasions, Baloch leaders have vowed to refuse the census results if their legitimate concerns are not addressed. Seemingly, the government remains indifferent, as it has announced that the population census will go on without addressing the status of other ethnic groups in Baluchistan, largely comprising immigrants, particularly Afghan refugees and Pashtuns.

The presence of a large number of Afghan refugees has had a weighty impact on the demographics of Baluchistan. In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghan refugees came to Pakistan in the millions. This created a substantial demographic imbalance between the majority Balochs and the Pashtuns. According to some reports, more than four million Afghan refugees have settled across Baluchistan and a large number of them have obtained citizenship and other rights.

Afghan refugee settlement across Baluchistan has further exacerbated Baloch and Pashtun tensions in the province. According to the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), around 80 percent of Afghan refugees in Pakistan are Pashtuns, and the majority of them live in Baluchistan. Many of them are expected to remain there, substantially augmenting the province’s already formidable Pashtun minority.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Philippines Captures Top Militant of Splinter Rebel Group

By Prashanth Parameswaran

High-ranking leader Hasan Indal nabbed in a joint operation.

Philippine authorities have captured a high-ranking leader of a key splinter militant group, a military spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

According to Maj. Filemon Tan, the spokesperson for the Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command, Hassan Indal alias Abu Hazam, the vice-chairman for internal affairs of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) and the 4th division commander of its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), was arrested in his hideout in the village of Kalanganan, west of Cotabato City late Tuesday. His son, Ali Indal, also a BIFF member, was killed during the raid after resisting arrest.

Though Indal was initially declared dead by Philippine military officials back in early 2014, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla said officials are certain this time of his arrest since he had been identified by locals. The raid that led to Indal’s arrest was a joint operation of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, the 601st Brigade and intelligence units of the 6th Infantry Division. Military officials said local villagers had helped in locating him.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Deadly Indonesia Military Plane Crash Kills 4

Brazilian Air Force Super Tucano (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Prashanth Parameswaran

Super Tucano aircraft crashes into house.

An Indonesian air force plane crashed into a house on the main island of Java Wednesday, killing both people on board and two people in the house, an official said.

The Brazilian-made Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack plane was on a routine training flight when it crashed close to the Abdul Rahman Saleh air force base in Malang around 10:45 am local time, air force chief Air Marshal Agus Supriatna confirmed,according to the Associated Press.

Supriatna said the pilot ejected from the plane, but a technician failed to do so. The pilot was found dead over a mile away from his parachute, while the technician’s body was recovered from the plane’s cockpit buried in the rubble. Supriatna added that a man and a woman living in the house died while being treated at a hospital.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Back From the Dead - India and Russia Revive Talks Over Fifth Generation Fighter Jet

By Franz-Stefan Gady

New Delhi and Moscow have restarted cost negotiations over the Sukhol/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft.

A high level Russian delegation arrived in New Delhi this week to recommence negotiations over the much-delayed Sukhol/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project, or as it known in India, the Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF), the Times of India reports.

“We have got the clearance to restart the talks. Accordingly, a Russian team is here and cost negotiations began yesterday,” said a source within India’s Ministry of Defense.

The Russian delegation is also negotiating with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) over joint production of 200 Kamov 226T light transport helicopters under the “Make in India” initiative and estimated to be worth $1 billion.

During the annual India-Russia summit, which took place in late December 2015 in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to resolve the impasse over the PMF project.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US-India Patrols in the South China Sea? Maybe Not Just Yet

Image: Flickr User - MEAphotogallery
By Ankit Panda

India and the United States are talking about the South China Sea, but are they ready to hold joint patrols there?

Early on Wednesday, Reuters published an interesting exclusive, suggesting that the United States and Indian navies are considering the idea of jointly conducting patrols in the South China Sea. It isn’t explicit if the idea under consideration is a bilateral U.S.-India freedom of navigation patrol, which would require Indian and U.S. vessels to challenge excessive maritime claims, or simply a bilateral passing exercise or other less contentious patrol. Both India and the United States support freedom of navigation, globally and in the South China Sea.

In recent years, as I’ve noted at The Diplomat, New Delhi has grown more accustomed to emphasizing the principle in its official statements. Last January, when Obama was in India for a state visit, he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi affirmed the importance of freedom of navigation. Just this past weekend, Modi, speaking before the 2016 International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam, reiterated Indian support for freedom of navigation.

It’s not surprising that U.S. and Indian officials are talking about the South China Sea. Overall bilateral strategic and defense ties between Washington and New Delhi have been on a steady track of convergence over the past decade and the South China Sea has risen on both their radars in the meantime. India is seeking to “Act East” these days and has pursued a more active sort of diplomacy with ASEAN and its constituent member states. What’s more, India’s 2015 Maritime Security Strategy document and 2009 Maritime Doctrine have classified the South China Sea as a “secondary zone of interest” for the Indian Navy.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: New US Defense Budget - $18 Billion for Third Offset Strategy

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Pentagon wants to spend more money to offset Anti-Area/Access-Denial (A2/AD) technologies.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking $71.8 billion in its fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request for research and development, including $3.6 billion dedicated to war-gaming and testing the Pentagon’s so-called third offset strategy developed to help maintain U.S. military superiority over peer competitors such as China and Russia.

According to information obtained by Defense News, the Pentagon has dedicated $18 billion in its Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) to researching and developing third offset technologies and operational concepts in the years to come.

Money allocated includes $3 billion on researching Anti-Area/Access-Denial (A2/AD) technologies, $3 billion on submarine and undersea challenges, $3 billion on human-machine collaboration and teaming, $1.7 billion on cyber and electronic warfare, $500 million on guided munitions challenges, and $500 million on wargaming and the testing of third offset operational concepts.

With $71.8 billion, the FY 2017 budget request is just four percent higher than the $69 million allocated for research and development in FY 2016. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work already cautioned in December 2015 not to expect a massive increase in funds allocated towards third offset technologies and operational concepts.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why China Dreads a Hillary Clinton Presidency

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Department of State
By Shannon Tiezzi

Chinese leaders got to know Clinton well when she was secretary of state — and didn’t much like what they saw.

As expected, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders scored an easy win over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary voting for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. While most of the attention focused on Donald Trump’s massive victory in the Republican Party primary, Sander’s win – or, more accurately, Clinton’s defeat – might be cause for celebration in an unlikely place: Zhongnanhai.

Beijing would never make public its preference for a U.S. presidential candidate. But in China, Clinton is well-known — and not particularly popular. That, in turn, could hamper a hypothetical President Clinton’s efforts to work with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who values interpersonal relationships in diplomatic efforts (see, for example, his noted warmth toward Russian President Vladimir Putin — and reputed dislike for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un).

Clinton has a long history with China, dating back to her time as First Lady. In 1995, Clinton gave a rousing speech on human rights in Beijing at the UN World Conference on Women, in which she declared that “women’s rights are human rights.” Fourteen years later, when she assumed office as secretary of state, Clinton was proud enough of this moment to specifically list it in her official State Department biography, but the incident left a lasting negative impression on China, which keenly resented being embarrassed on the world stage.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Xi Jinping Lays Down the Law for China’s Top Military News Outlet

By Ben Lowsen

Among his directives: “The PLA Daily must continue to take ‘Party’ as its surname.”

During a visit to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily last year on Christmas Day, Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping laid down the law for China’s top military news outlet.

His official speech was not immediately made public, but thanks to an article published last month in the Party’s Hongqi Wengao (Red Flag Manuscript), we now have a window into Xi’s thinking on media affairs. Among his directives: “The PLA Daily must continue to take ‘Party’ as its surname.” He explains that taking “Party” as a surname means “a reaffirmation of the basic principle of ‘the political leadership running the press.’”

This may sound strange, but we should note that in Chinese surnames come first. What Xi is saying is that the newspaper should be the “Party PLA Daily.” We can also extend this to the military itself, meaning that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (which includes all of China’s military forces) is in fact the “Party Army,” a tried and true principle among China watchers.

The character for “party” appears to have its origins as a family name in the Spring and Autumn period, although it is quite uncommon today. At least as late as 2006, however, orphanages would actually assign the surnames ‘Party’ and ‘Nation’ to their wards based on gender (see the Xinhua story here). Obviously the orphanages wanted to show their loyalty, but the gesture also carried the idea of China as one great family… under the Party naturally.

Read the full story at The Diplomat